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Belfast pharmacist facing charges related to supply of opioids

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Belfast pharmacist facing charges related to supply of opioids

A Belfast pharmacist is due before a local magistrates court early in the new year over accusations that he supplied controlled drugs such as co-codamol and fentanyl in a manner that breached the Human Medicines Regulations and that he failed to maintain his pharmacy’s controlled drugs register as required.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that there are a dozen charges against pharmacist Gerard Cullinan of south Belfast, including two counts relating to the sale and supply of medicines.

The first of these relates to allegations that between January 1 2017 and June 17 2020 he sold or supplied co-codamol contrary to Regulation 214 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, with a similar charge relating to the supply of fentanyl between January 2018 and December 2019.

Other charges relate to allegations that Mr Cullinan failed to keep proper records around the purchasing and supply of medications such as morphine, oxycodone and tapentodol.

The same charges have been brought against Castlereagh Pharmacy in east Belfast. The pharmacy, of which Mr Cullinan is a director, also faces an additional charge relating to the sale or supply of medicines without a prescription.

Mr Cullinan was due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Departmental Court yesterday (December 5), but his defence team successfully applied for a six-week adjournment, with the district judge noting that there were a "lot of papers" relating to the case.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland first place interim conditions on Mr Cullinan’s licence to practice in July 2020. These conditions have been extended several times, most recently in September this year when they were extended until May 25 2024.

Among other conditions imposed by the PSNI, Mr Cullinan may not keep keys to the premises, and must only be on site during the pharmacy’s usual business hours.

He may not work as the sole pharmacist on site, or as the superintendent or responsible pharmacist, and is instead required to hire a superintendent pharmacist approved by the regulator and work under their supervision.

The conditions also state that Mr Cullinan may not “make up, complete any check on or otherwise dispense any controlled drug or POM” without the oversight of his supervisor or superintendent.

He is also required to disclose these conditions to employers, contractors, the local health and social board and colleagues including his superintendent pharmacist and line manager.  

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